Apr 27, 2014

Pretzel Croissants - Laugen Gipfeli

     English / Italiano (troverete il testo in italiano tra qualche giorno)

I knew that "that day" would come…  
"that day" that I kept postponing with nonchalance (what a poker face!) but then, Bread Baking Babes Heather made somehow sure that "that day" had to be today: the Revenge of the Croissants!
I was never really that much into "homemade croissants" for their huge amount of butter and work. I love their taste but if I had to choose between a slice of whole-wheat bread and a croissant, my conscience would pick up the slice of bread… Not always, not on Friday, when our friend Josephina comes along with croissants: white, whole-wheat & seeds and pretzel croissants... No, definitely not on Friday!

Well, as I said, Heather of Girlichef made me (us) prepare the Pretzel Croissants (you know the story: no pain no gain! Which translated means: no croissants no BBBuddies Badge  ;-) !! I’ve been collecting them all since May 2012 (that makes 24 - TWENTY-FOUR - badges!!!) and there was no way I was going to lose this one!! Would you like to see them all? Please click here).
There have been pains because of its long process, but I can assure you that the gain has been massive: making croissants it’s something every home-baker should try at least once. 

I knew I was going to make them only once, so I decided to double the ingredients, bake them all and freeze some of them (ps: the frozen croissants went directly into the hot oven for some minutes and were served to my girlfriends.
I told them to eat them slowly (LOL) because THAT would have been the one and only time they were going to have homemade pretzel croissants from me … But I’ve secretly heard that they were trying to find a strategy to make me bake them again… It made me laugh and my “self-esteem” rose and rose… )

To make croissants you absolutely need to plan ahead (and read the recipe from start to end). I've resumed the main steps to give an overview of what’s expecting you:

Step   1: prepare the dough
Step   2: prepare the butter block
Step   3: prepare the baked baking soda
Step   4: make the first, second and third turn of the dough
Step   5: shape the croissants
Step   6: prepare the dipping solution
Step   7: bath the croissants in the dipping solution
Step   8: egg-wash the croissants and sprinkle them with seeds
Step   9: bake the croissants
Step 10: let the croissants cool down 
Step 11: my favourite step: lean back, relax and have a wonderful pretzel croissant! 

Ingredients for 12 pretzel croissants
for the dough (step 1):
120 ml (1/2 cup) lukewarm milk (100°F-38°C)
7 g (1/4 ounce; 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar (golden or dark)
410 g (3 1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour + more for work surface
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
28 g (2 tablespoons; 1 ounce) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temp
120 ml (1/2 cup) cold pilsner-style beer

for the butter block (step 2):
340 g (12 ounces; 3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

to finish:
60 grams (1/4 cup) baked baking soda (step 3)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk (step 8)
coarse salt (I've used Fleur de Sel)
sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, optional

Step 1: the Dough

Stir the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar into the lukewarm milk and allow to sit until foamy, 5 minutes or so.

Picture 1: Whisk the flour, remaining brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture, breaking it up into tiny flour-coated pieces the size of breadcrumbs. 
Picture 2: Stir in the yeast mixture and the beer using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to form a shaggy mass.

Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead eight to ten times, until all of the flour is just incorporated. You don't want to over work it, because you don't want the butter to melt too much. The dough will not be a smooth mass; you will see some flecks of butter. It should be soft and tacky, but not sticky. Adjust as needed with flour or water.

Picture 3: Lightly oil a large bowl and set the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours (24 will give you the best flavour). 
Picture 4: 24 hours after...

Step 2: the Butter Block 
Many thanks to Chef Bruno Albouze for the great idea!

Picture 1: What you need is a zip lock bag the size of the required butter sheet (if it is too big, fold it over and fix it with sellotape) and your butter at room temperature.
Picture 2: Add two tablespoons of flour to the butter
Picture 3: and stir well with a rubber spatula until homogeneous.
Picture 4: Fill the zip lock bag, close it properly (or the butter will escape...believe me!) 
Picture 5: and using a rolling pin, distribute the butter evenly. From time to time you may need to stop rolling and let the air out of the bag.
Picture 6: Once the butter is evenly distributed, put it in the fridge on a flat surface.
Note: the butter and the dough must have the same consistency. To reach this, I had to take out the butter from the fridge 40 minutes before the dough.
To use the butter, cut out the 4 plastic borders and gently remove the upper foil. Arrange the butter sheet "upside-down" on the dough and gently peel off the last foil. 
(butter block full post)

Step 3: Bake the Baking Soda

Baked baking soda is an alternative to working with lye that still lends pretzels their dark, burnished crust (with baked baking soda the croissant will be bathed into a cold dipping solution! That's absolutely brilliant!)
To make the baked baking soda, spread 1/4 cup ( about 70 grams) of baking soda out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (or in a pie pan). Slide it into an oven that has been preheated to 250°F (120°C) and bake for 1 hour. It will decrease in weight, but shouldn't decrease in volume. 
Cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. If you see lots of pretzels in your future, make a large batch to store since it keeps indefinitely.

Step 4: the Turns
Notes: It is possible to do 2 or even all 3 turns at a time IF your kitchen is cool enough and you work fast enough. You want the butter to stay cold; if it starts to get soft, you'll lose those beautiful flaky layers in the end. When in doubt, refrigerate between turns.

Scatter a little bit of flour on your work surface, then turn the dough out onto it. 
Picture 1: Roll it out into a rectangle that is 10x15 inches (25 x 38 cm) and about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Using your hands, gently pull and stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush excess flour off of the dough. Set the dough with a long edge facing you.

Picture 2: Mentally divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Place the butter block over the right 2/3 of the dough, leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm) border on the outer edges. 
Picture 3: Fold the empty left portion of the dough over the middle third. 
Picture 4: Now, lift and fold the right section of dough over that. You should have 3 layers of dough that encase 2 layers of butter. Pinch the outsides and the seams together and lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin. This completes the first turn. 
Picture 5: Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the fridge and set it on your lightly floured work surface. 
Picture 1: Roll dough out into a 10x15 inches (25 x 38 cm) rectangle, pulling and stretching to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush off any excess flour. Set the dough with a long edge facing you. 
Picture 2: Fold both of the short ends in to the center, leaving a 1/4 inch (6 mm) gap where they meet (think of a book jacket). 
Fold one side of the dough over the other. Lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin, and square and sharpen the edges and corners. This completes the second turn. 
Picture 3: Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3rd turn = 1st turn
Lightly dust your work surface and the top of the dough with flour. 
Roll dough out into a 10x15 inches (25 x 38 cm) rectangle. 
Do another trifold, as done in the first turn (mentally divide into thirds, then fold one third over the center, followed by the last third). 
Square the edges and sharpen the sides; wipe off excess flour. 
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to another 24 hours.  (At this point, you can wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, slide it into a freezer baggie, and freeze for up to 1 week. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding to final shaping. I've deep-frozen the baked and cooled croissants).

Step 5: the Final Shaping (two ways)
1st way: (I personally found that cutting out the triangle was less "difficult" than the 2nd way, but shaping the croissant was more complicated as the triangle had a 90 degrees angle)

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Lightly dust your work surface and top of your dough with flour. Roll out into a 10x15 inches (25 x 38 cm) rectangle that is ~1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Pull and stretch to form straight edges and sharp corners. Patch any holes where butter may have popped through by dusting them with flour. Brush any excess flour off the dough.

Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, creating two 15x9 inches (38x23 cm) sheets of dough. Using a pizza cutter or bench scraper, cut each piece of dough into three equal strips, the short way. Then cut each strip in half diagonally, so that you left with 6 triangles. Repeat with other piece of dough.

2nd way: (to cut out these triangles I've used a ruler to exaclty measure out the size. It took me longer than in the 1st way, but less time in rolling and forming the croissants. I preferred this way and I liked them more - their shape).

For both ways: If  you like, cut a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) notch in the center of each triangle base, then beginning at that end, roll the triangles up, tugging on the tip to elongate it slightly, then gently pressing it into the dough. Place on the prepared baking sheets with the tip tucked under, and curve the ends to form crescent shapes (the notch helps with the curving process). 
If you prefer a "straight" croissant, the notch isn't necessary. Either way, it won't hurt anything. 

Cover the croissants with damp, clean kitchen towels and allow to rise at cool room temperature until they have almost doubled in size and feel spongy, about 2 hours.

At this point, slide the croissants into the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you prepare the dipping solution. Preheat oven to 425° F (218°C), positioning one rack in the upper third of the oven, and one in the lower third.

     That's what I did with my Dough leftovers

Since I had some leftovers from cutting out straight edges and sharp corners when forming the 10x15 inches (25 x 38 cm) rectangle and in order not to lose the beautiful flaky layers I did not knead the leftover dough together but layered the pieces close to each other. Then with the rolling pin I rolled out the dough, made some turns (as in the first turn), covered in plastic foil, put the block in the fridge for 1 hour and finally rolled it out into a new rectangle... Doing this I could gain more croissants. 

Steps 6 & 7: the Dipping Solution

Add the baked baking soda in 8 cups (about 2 litres) of cold water and stir until completely dissolved. One by one, dip the croissant dough into the dipping solution, allow the excess to drip off, then set back on the lined trays.

Step 8: Egg-wash & Seeds

Brush the tops with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse salt and sesame seeds or poppy seeds, if using.

Step 9: the Baking

Slide into preheated oven immediately and bake for 15-18 minutes (rotating pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through), until they are deeply browned, crispy, and flaky. They should feel light and airy if you pick them up. (While baking I saw a lot of butter escaping from the croissants, but luckily it did not ruin their shape or taste).

Step 10: Cool down

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving (or if you love them even more buttery, let them sit on the sheet tray for 5-10 minutes as they will soak the butter on the pan back into them.)
They are best enjoyed the day they are made, ideally warm from the oven. Store any extras in a paper bag for a day. You can reheat them by placing them in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 5 minutes.
(Once cooled down, I deep-froze some croissants for 1 hour on a baking tray and then transferred them into a large zip lock freezing bag. The day I needed them, I just re-baked them in a preheated oven (302°F - 150°C) for about 8 minutes (or until done - I really didn't check my watch) They were perfect). 

Beautiful video on making croissants. Chef Bruno Albouze is having great fun!

ITALIANO: diponibile presto

Fancy becoming a Bread Baking Buddy? Here's how it works:
- You have until the 29th to bake the bread and post about it on your blog with a link to the Kitchen of the Month’s post about the bread.
- E-mail the Kitchen of the Month (you'll find her name in my post) with your name and a link to your post OR leave a comment on the Kitchen of the Month’s blog that you have baked the bread and a link back to your post.
- The Kitchen of the Month will post a round-up of the Bread Baking Buddies at the end of the week and send them a BBB badge for that month’s bread.
No blog, No problem – just e-mail the Kitchen of the Month with a photo and brief description of the bread you baked and you’ll be included in the round-up.

Short glossary:
BBBabes: this group's creators.
Kitchen of the Month: the BBBabe who has chosen the recipe of the month. On his/her blog you'll find the recipe written in details.
BBBuddies: who's baking along, has sent the link and picture to the Kitchen of the Month and has received the BBB badge.

Fancy becoming a "Back to the Future, Buddies"?
The idea of baking the BBBabes breads I had missed from the creation of the group in 2009 stroke my mind, as each and every bread they had proposed had turned out to be a huge hit.
And that’s how this project came to life: all the way from the beginning and back to the future, that’s what we are going to bake.
Join us, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be delicious!

PS: If you wish, join the group on Facebook by clicking here.

Volete anche voi entrare a far parte del mondo dei "Bread Baking Buddies”? Ecco come funziona:  
- Capire l'inglese (poiché non ho ancora visto nessun altro tradurre le ricette in italiano).
- Avete tempo fino al 29 di ogni mese per preparare il pane e scrivere un articolo a riguardo sul vostro blog, includendo un link alla Kitchen of the Month (cucina del mese – colui/colei che ha scelto la ricetta. Il nome lo trovate nel mio articolo).
- Mandare una E-mail alla Kitchen of the Month con il vostro nome e il link al vostro articolo o lasciare un commento sul suo blog, dicendo che avete preparato il pane e il relativo link al vostro articolo.
- The Kitchen of the Month pubblicherà alla fine della settimana una raccolta di tutti i BBBuddies e invierà loro il magnifico Badge per il pane di quel mese.
- No blog, No problems! Inviate una e-mail alla Kitchen of the Month con una foto ed una breve descrizione del pane che avete preparato. Sarete così inclusi nella raccolta di BBBuddies.

Con tutte queste sigle, piccolo glossario:
BBBabes: i creatori / creatrici del gruppo
Kitchen of the Month: il / la BBBabe che ha scelto la ricetta del mese. Sul suo blog troverete la ricetta passo per passo.

BBBuddies: tutti coloro che hanno preparato il pane del mese, inviato foto e link alla Kitchen of the Month e ricevuto il distintivo (Badge).  

Volete anche voi entrare a far parte del mondo dei "Back to the Future, Buddies?”
Un paio di giorni fa sono stata colta dall’irrefrenabile voglia di preparare tutti i pani che mi ero persa dalla creazione del gruppo nel 2009… anche perché ogni loro ricetta si è rivelata un grande successo.
E così è nato questo progetto: ripercorrere tutta la strada dall’inizio e "Back to the Future", … ed è così che faccio appello a voi,  amanti delle cose buone fatte in casa: unitevi al gruppo: sarà divertente, sarà delizioso.
Se lo desiderate, unitevi al gruppo su Facebook, cliccando qui.

I've submitted this recipe to: Ho condiviso la ricetta con:
Sweet and That's itMade with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior

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  1. Well, that was my goal - I am glad that I could give you that little (big?) push to make croissants from scratch. They turned out absolutely beautiful, Carola, I'm so happy that we have these badges to motivate you ;) ha ha ha! Thanks for baking along this month.

  2. I'm glad Heather gave everyone a push to make these because what a triumph! These look amazing and I've been drooling ever since I saw Heather post her's.... Gorgeous and so tempting...

  3. Brava!! They look lovely!

    And? After all this labour, are you going to cave in and make them again? Even though I vowed never to make another pretzel croissant again, I'm considering it. They're awfully good, aren't they?


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